Loss by McMillan in recount would worsen bad night for GOPGov. Susana Martinez and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez were among countless Republicans who said their party would take control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 60 years.
They were as wrong as could be.
Only one incumbent Democrat, Rep. Ray Begaye of Shiprock, lost in the general election. Begaye was engulfed in a scandal over travel reimbursement.
Otherwise, the election was unkind to the GOP
Three incumbent Republicans lost their House seats, and the number could grow to four.
Rep. Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces, could also be ousted. He is tied with Democrat Joanne J. Ferrary in a race that saw more than 12,400 people vote.
A recount will extend the battles of November and decide the winner between McMillan and Ferrary.
Democrats also picked up a seat with a win in House District 36, where they knocked out Rep. Andy Nunez of Hatch, the only independent in the state Legislature.
If Ferrary defeats McMillan, Democrats will have a net gain of three in House, to 39-31. Should McMillan prevail, the margin will be 38-32.
Either way, it will be much harder for Martinez to advance bills that she wants.
It is easy to look back and point to mistakes by the Republicans, and that probably is what state Rep. Conrad James is doing.
James, R-Albuquerque, wanted to run for the state Senate. He did not make the move and ended up losing his House seat.
Democrat Elizabeth Thomson defeated James in a redrawn district that lessened his Republican support.
James, with a gravelly voice, courtly style and impressive resume -- undergraduate degree in engineering from Notre Dame and a Ph.D in physics from Cornell -- may be back as a candidate.
But his defeat last week exemplifies the Republican failings and overconfidence.
The GOP called James one of its rising stars, even though he had never won a contested election. When he faced an opponent, his star flamed out.
As for Begaye, the Democrats may be glad to be rid of him as a lawmaker. If he is charged with a crime, Begaye will enter his plea as a private citizen, not a sitting Democrat in the House of Representatives.
In all, with retirements and defeats, either 20 or 21 of the 70 House members will be new next year.
Everyone should be cautious in anointing any of the freshmen as a star. Being a legislator is about deeds, not descriptions.
Let us first see who works hard, who can work across the aisle, who is civil to the opposition when emotions run high, and who makes life better for New Mexico residents with smart public policy.